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Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Saints QB Drew Brees By Brent Sobleski , The New Orleans Saints offense isn't built like a traditional offense. Unlike most NFL teams, the Saints place a higher value on ...

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Old 11-14-2014, 12:49 PM   #1
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Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Saints QB Drew Brees
By Brent Sobleski ,

The New Orleans Saints offense isn't built like a traditional offense. Unlike most NFL teams, the Saints place a higher value on their interior blockers along the offensive line than their offensive tackles. When those interior blockers aren't playing well, which they aren't this season, then it makes life far more difficult for the undersized Drew Brees to be an effective passer from the pocket.

Overall, the middle of the Saints offensive line is getting old and deteriorating.

New Orleans once invested heavily to keep Brees clean and happy in the pocket. But those contracts are nearing an end, and the play of those veterans hasn't been up to snuff.

Most NFL teams usually make their left tackle the highest-paid player along the offensive line. After all, the left tackle is tasked with protecting his quarterback's blind side. The left tackle needs to be athletic and gifted to complete his mission at a high level.

The Saints haven't bought into the same theory since signing Brees as a free agent, though.
...

The Saints have a history of keeping the cheaper alternative at one of the game's supposed cornerstone positions.

However, the organization doled out plenty of cash to its talented guards.


Brees isn't at typical quarterback. At 6'0", he struggles to see over his offensive line. The quarterback is often seen on his tiptoes leering at defenses from the pocket from underneath his facemask (see: picture). Brees generally needs good throwing lanes as well. Thus, the play of the guards and center become even more important for this particular franchise to make its quarterback as effective as possible.

Guards who don't surrender ground while pass blocking are vital. Brees isn't nearly as effective with the pocket collapsing in front of him because he can't see over it to make the quick throws and get him out of pressure—whereas he can step into the pocket if there is edge pressure given up by one of the offensive tackles.

The problem this season is the precipitous drop in play from those interior blockers, and it starts with Evans.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco succinctly described Evans' play this season:
The pride of Bloomsburg University has been stellar for so long, it's hard imagine he's finally hitting his decline. At 31 years old, that appears to be the case.

During his previous seven seasons, Evans consistently graded positively as one of the top guards in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). This season has been completely different.

Among the 78 guards graded by Pro Football Focus, Evans is ranked 45th with a minus-4.6 overall effort. The once-great interior blocker has been easily beat off the line of scrimmage this season, and he is no longer the type of offensive lineman who simply stones defenders at the point of attack.

Through nine games, the guard already allowed 20 quarterback hurries. That's more than he gave up over the entirety of the last two campaigns.

Age and injuries eventually get to every great player. Evans' decline looks to have already started.
USA TODAY Sports

At left guard, Grubbs has been better than Evans, but his play has been far from stellar. The Auburn product also received a negative grade from Pro Football Focus through the first half of the season.

Like Evans, Grubbs hasn't been as strong as previous seasons in pass protection. The Saints' left guard surrendered 18 quarterback hurries.

For those keeping track, that's 38 quarterback hurries already given up by the Saints' once-reliable guards. Pressure isn't just coming from the edges. Brees is having to deal with defenders coming up the middle, which is the worst predicament for the quarterback and the offense.

Upheaval at center has also been a concern.

Veteran Jonathan Goodwin has been dealing with an MCL injury. He returned to the lineup Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers after missing the previous two games.

For example, the center, who is now in his 13th year, had one of this worst games of the season against the 49ers. He scored his second-worst grade from Pro Football Focus this year after giving up two quarterback hurries and one hit.

It's easy to lay the blame at the feet of the quarterback. The position generally gets too much of the credit and the blame. Brees hasn't been as great this season as seen during previous years. But he's also struggling to find receivers due to a collapsing pocket caused by poor play from the middle of his offensive line.

If Evans, Grubbs and Goodwin can't keep the middle of the pocket clean for Brees during the rest of the season, the Saints will struggle to maintain their slight lead even in the mediocre NFC South. Those three are experienced and formidable enough to pull it together and allow their quarterback to play at a higher level.

Without strong pass protection, the Saints offense will quickly become stagnant.

Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Saints QB Drew Brees | Bleacher Report


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Old 11-14-2014, 01:04 PM   #2
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

Originally Posted by Danno View Post

Without strong pass protection, the Saints offense will quickly become stagnant.
and there it is.
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Old 11-14-2014, 01:10 PM   #3
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

I have to agree. Does anyone have access to PFF? I'd love to see the overall grades for Grubbs and Goodwin as well, and see where they rank at their respective positions. Personally, I wanted Lelito to remain at Center against the 49ers. As for guard, we don't have anyone who can step in. I see a guard in next years draft for sure
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Old 11-14-2014, 01:17 PM   #4
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

Lelito has looked better at center to me. I wonder if pass attempts is a factor in those stats. Defenses play the pass against the Saints. When a defense gameplans for the pass and you do it, it makes it much harder on the o-line. I think they've done a good job considering the predictability of the Saints offense.
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Old 11-14-2014, 01:18 PM   #5
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

There was zero pressure on both of Brees' picks vs niners

Poor O line play is making things difficult, but its not the only reason for Brees' interceptions.
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Old 11-14-2014, 01:46 PM   #6
 
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

Time to reload at OG and OC.
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Old 11-14-2014, 02:09 PM   #7
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

While I agree that there is a decline in performance for all of Grubbs, Goodwin and Evans, we also struggle in pass blocking when it comes to TE and RB. As good as Ingram has been running the ball he is not Pierre Thomas when it comes to protection packages. And as for the o-line and Ingram they are clearly enjoying when we rush the ball and this needs to be emphasized even more. I think we have hit the end of Drew carrying this team with 45 to 50 attempts a game. He needs to be limited in attempts and we will have to win with balance.
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Old 11-14-2014, 04:13 PM   #8
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

Grubbs has not impressed me as a Saint. I think he was a knee jerk reaction and we over paid after losing Nicks to the Bucs. Goodwin got my hopes up, but that didn't last long. And it seemed like the Saints had an Ace up their sleeve with Lelito but I'm not so sure he's all that........yes he's big. I'll give you that, but he's not big and bad. Nicks restructured his contract and we are paying for access to that money from his restructure.

We keep trying to emulate our small school finds along the O-line and we aren't having the success we did early under this leadership. We need to invest in a guard early in the draft. I wanted a top draft pick at center last year. But I gave up on that when we traded for Cooks and burned a third round draft pick. We have several holes on the team but these are priority positions.imho

I think Evans and Grubbs would play better with a strong center commanding the line.
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Old 11-14-2014, 04:18 PM   #9
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

Originally Posted by lumm0x View Post
While I agree that there is a decline in performance for all of Grubbs, Goodwin and Evans, we also struggle in pass blocking when it comes to TE and RB. As good as Ingram has been running the ball he is not Pierre Thomas when it comes to protection packages. And as for the o-line and Ingram they are clearly enjoying when we rush the ball and this needs to be emphasized even more. I think we have hit the end of Drew carrying this team with 45 to 50 attempts a game. He needs to be limited in attempts and we will have to win with balance.
I agree,but we cannot win games on a balanced offense alone. We really need a good, stout defense to go with our balanced offense. Doesn't have to be great, just a solid,disciplined defense. That's not too much to ask,is it?
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Old 11-14-2014, 11:22 PM   #10
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Re: Poor Play at Guard, Center Is Making Life Difficult for Brees

Originally Posted by Rugby Saint II View Post
Grubbs has not impressed me as a Saint. I think he was a knee jerk reaction and we over paid after losing Nicks to the Bucs. Goodwin got my hopes up, but that didn't last long. And it seemed like the Saints had an Ace up their sleeve with Lelito but I'm not so sure he's all that........yes he's big. I'll give you that, but he's not big and bad. Nicks restructured his contract and we are paying for access to that money from his restructure.

We keep trying to emulate our small school finds along the O-line and we aren't having the success we did early under this leadership. We need to invest in a guard early in the draft. I wanted a top draft pick at center last year. But I gave up on that when we traded for Cooks and burned a third round draft pick. We have several holes on the team but these are priority positions.imho

I think Evans and Grubbs would play better with a strong center commanding the line.
Never really liked the Grubbs move. Losing Nicks endedup poorly for both sides although I am sure Nicks regrets it more.

Biggest needs in next years draft, in order:

OLine namely a big OG.
DLine pass rushing DT is desperately needed.

Edit:

Phone typing.
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